One of my biggest struggles lately has just been mental – I am having trouble getting myself to actually create content or really do anything with my blog. It could be so many things – overwhelm, too many ideas or goals, lack of results which feels discouraging, not making any money, even a feeling that maybe I’m not doing the right thing / have the wrong goals. It’s tough but I am sure many beginners go through these challenges.
Fortunately, there are many resources available to help. In addition to the BlogHer events and site, some of my personal favorites for learning tips on writing compelling content, marketing and monetizing are Fizzle.com, MichaelHyatt.com and Problogger.net. All three provide lots of free advice (and more in-depth training and support is available for a fee).
Disclosure and quick heads up – I started my first blog on Bluehost and have now partnered with them to get you a big discount rate. If you make a purchase through this or any of the links on this post I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I still think a self-hosted WordPress blog is the best way to start a successful blog and build a business!

Selling physical products online can be hard to setup as you will need to deal with storage, shipping and even deal with things such as local taxes and distance selling laws. Of course a lot of this headache can be resolved by finding a company who will offer a white-label or drop shipping service leaving you to worry about getting traffic and updating the website.
Affiliate marketing is my absolute favorite way to make money blogging. I love it because it can feel quite passive. You can create just one blog or social media post, which can potentially still earn you money years down the line. Now, you will have to maintain the post and keep generating traffic to it. Still, with affiliate marketing, I can relax a little and enjoy life more, all while knowing that I am earning a great living promoting products that I use and enjoy.
Very useful, applicable and dare I say inspiring post, Jon! I feel I’m ready to systematically implement all of your solutions (and similar ones offered by others) but I often wonder if I would have more success starting a new blog from scratch, than trying to up the ante with my existing blog. It would be nice to have time for both! Great post though, I will be bookmarking (and sharing, cuz you asked) this one.
Jon, thanks for this awesome post. My question is, what do you think of blogs who ask for donations or claim to sustain themselves by them? (Also books and products). But what do you think about the donation itself and if you´re pro-donation, when is a good time to start asking for it in a blog? Thanks a lot for your time. Hope some day I can meet you Im from and live in Mexico
In other words, Jon is an incredible writer, communicator, and hard worker–no question. But you’re in the business of helping other people make money. You’re not, by contrast, a travel blogger. You’re not, by contrast, helping to teach people how to buy their first pet. You’re not, by contrast, an entertainment blogger writing about Rihanna and “True Detective.”
Search for blogs that cover similar topics. Use a search engine and the search bar on blog hosting sites to find blogs that cover your topic or related topic. Read a few blog posts from the most popular ones, that show up high on the search ranking, have the most comments, or display a readership of 20,000 or more.[7] Get an idea for how much interest and competition there is.
He is the co-founder of Neil Patel Digital. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.
Just thinking aloud here – but maybe you could put a guide together to help people choose the best art for their homes? Maybe in time offer a consultancy service – I bet there are some people who would pay someone to choose the art for them? I’ve seen that you are a self-taught artist – able to offer courses/consultancy on helping others learn art?

In my opinion, the most important way to let yourself know is through networking. As an IT Professional for over 20 years (way before social media sites) I’d seen how human interaction has evolved, but the basics remain the same. Everyone wants to get known and recognized and if you want to get yourself or your product/services out there, you have to network with others respectfully and also help others. Networking is not a one-way street, you have to contribute by collaborating with others. This is how you get to promote yourself or a product/service.

I suppose I just don’t see why being DEVOID of a blog and social media will make you an attractive guest blogging candidate. I get that you’ll maybe be more focused on finding guest blogs rather than building up your Twitter following, but couldn’t you just ask easily say that we should focus on doing nothing but building followers on Twitter, because you can then build relationships and find guest posting opportunities through the people you meet in social media?
To all the bloggers out there…STOP sucking up to the very small, elite and narcissistic group of self-proclaimed influencers out there. If you all stop treating them like they’re special, they will not longer by special and therefore some of us who aren’t in there secret society will be seen as knowing what we’re talking about too! This isn’t High School, grow up and read someone else’s blog already!
With the free version of WordPress, you don’t really have that much freedom to make changes to your site. Plus, WordPress actually owns your site if you use the free version (meaning, your site is technically not even yours). With the free version of WordPress, your website link even looks unprofessional; instead of a .com ending, your site will look like “yourwebsite.wordpress.com”.
I’ve been building online businesses and e-commerce websites since 2000. I would never in my life start a new website with a “free” blogging or “free” website platform. If you do, within months your website is going to start growing, and you’re going to have to switch to a paid platform anyway. You will have thrown away all that time (and lost money in the process).
One added benefit is that if someone clicks on a link from your website to Amazon and ends up buying multiple items (not just the item you are promoting), then you would get credit for the entire sale! Imagine you recommend a book on Amazon, your visitor goes to Amazon to buy a book - and while they're there they end up buying a new TV, a Sony PlayStation, and some other things... you get credit for all of the sales. Not only that but you also earn from any sales you make in the following 15 days from that customer.
Jon, this is a great article. Thank you. As usual, you are full of useful information. I am new to blogging (just launched in March) and I initially started with the small e-mail list from my business website, which does not have a blog. I started a completely new website after realizing I was on the wrong platform altogether to grow an audience. I learned this thanks to the information you and other professional bloggers provide. You recommend affiliate marketing to monetize a small new blog, which are my exact thoughts for my blog. Do you have an affiliate program? If so I would love to promote your info on my site. Thanks again!

If you want to be famous or reach a wide audience, you will have to choose something slightly broader and work hard to make the best content for that topic. A subtopic relating to fitness, finance, or relationship advice is likely to reach the most people. Consider specific but broadly applicable topics such as managing money in college, or a marriage counseling blog.
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